Just one day after abortion rights advocates gathered in Poland to oppose changes to the country’s laws, police raided the offices of at least two women’s rights organizations in four cities.
Abortion is illegal in Poland with three exceptions: in cases where the woman’s life is in danger, there is irreparable damage to the fetus or if the pregnancy is a result of a rape as confirmed by a prosecutor. But the government is currently considering changes that would ban abortion with no exceptions.
Polish police raided the offices of the Women’s Rights Centre and Baba, both of which helped to organize the protest. This protest, in addition to opposing the proposed abortion ban, also commemorated the “Black Protest” of abortion laws that occurred in October 2016 when Poland faced similar proposed changes to abortion restrictions.
In a recent statement, the Women’s Rights Centre said, “We are afraid that this is just a pretext or warning signal to not engage in activities not in line with the ruling party.” The organizations that were targeted have experienced setbacks due to the police seizure of computers and files from their offices.
The Polish police claim that the timing of the raids was unrelated to the protest. They stated that the purpose of the raids was related to evidence of misconduct by the former administration who contributed funds to these organizations. Representatives from the organizations affected are not convinced, “I’ve got the impression that the raids are an attempt to scare us and anybody else involved in activity disliked by those in power.”
Media Sources: Feminist Newswire 10/5/16, Independent 10/6/17, The Telegraph 10/6/17, The Guardian 10/3/16, 10/5/17